Rotation likely to return intact

The Nationals have a busy offseason ahead of them on a number of fronts.

They'll need to decide what they want to do with their starting second base job, assuming that Ryan Zimmerman moves across the diamond and becomes the everyday first baseman and Anthony Rendon remains at third.

They'll need to add to their bullpen (which will almost certainly be without Rafael Soriano next season, as the Nats are unlikely to pick up his $14 million team option for next season) and bench, which will see multiple players hit free agency.

They'll need to try and kick-start talks with various players about contract extensions. Jordan Zimmermann, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister all have their current contracts expire after the 2015 campaign, and if the Nats pick up Denard Span's club option for 2015, he too will be set to hit free agency next winter.

zimmermann-pitching-red-wide-sidebar.jpgBecause both Zimmermann and Fister are in the last year of their respective deals, and because the Nats are unlikely to extend both right-handers, there's a chance that general manager Mike Rizzo could trade either Zimmermann or Fister this winter, to ensure that the Nats get a return of some kind for one of the two proven righties.

But if a trade doesn't happen, and both Zimmermann and Fister do return for 2015, then one area of the roster that the Nats won't really need to address this winter is the starting rotation.

And given that the Nats had the best rotation in the major leagues this season (at least in the ERA category), that's most definitely a good thing.

All five rotation members from the bulk of 2014 (Stephen Strasburg, Zimmermann, Fister, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark) are under contractual control next season. Blake Treinen, who served as the Nats' spot-starter for much of 2014 and posted a 2.49 ERA in his first big league season, will be around. Taylor Jordan, who started the year in the rotation when Fister was on the disabled list but ended it on the DL with an elbow injury, is still on the 40-man roster and could factor in.

And up-and-coming right-hander A.J. Cole - who the Nats drafted in the fourth round in 2010, traded to Oakland in the Gonzalez deal and then re-acquired in the Michael Morse trade - also could find his way into the mix at some point. Cole put up a 3.16 ERA between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse this season, and is thought of as one of the Nats' top pitching prospects.

This isn't to say that the Strasburg-Zimmermann-Fister-Gonzalez-Roark quintet will definitely be in place in the rotation come opening day. But the starting rotation certainly doesn't need to be a major area of focus for the Nats this season.

Examining the free agent second base options
On Harper's finish to 2014

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